If you learned to play Dungeons & Dragons back in 1983 or thereabouts you may well have done so with the D&D Basic Set, a red box that included a solo choose-your-own-adventure to introduce the basics of the Basic rules. That adventure’s star NPCs, Aleena the cleric and Bargle the Infamous, are still fondly remembered (and hated, in Bargle’s case) by an entire generation of roleplayers today.
Wizards of the Coast has created a new pick-a-path introduction to D&D called Before the Storm (opens in new tab), no relation to the Life is Strange prequel, which you can play in a browser. You get to select a character from five options—human paladin, hill dwarf cleric, lightfoot halfling rogue, high elf wizard, or wood elf fighter—and play through a story that introduces the rules of D&D’s 5th edition.
(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)
Before the Storm ends with a lead into the latest D&D Starter Set (opens in new tab), Dragons of Stormwreck Isle, and each of the characters you can play corresponds to one of its pre-generated PCs. Even if you’re not planning to play that adventure though, this browser game makes for a cute introduction to D&D or a way to play without all the trials of getting a group together.
This is all part of a push to make getting into D&D less intimidating via a welcoming website (opens in new tab) that collects pre-generated characters, free adventures, and the basic rules. Wizards of the Coast is also working on an official D&D Virtual Tabletop in Unreal Engine 5 that looks pretty rad if you can’t get a group together in person, albeit one that’s likely to have higher system requirements than something more lightweight like Owlbear Rodeo.
Of course, you can always just play D&D in videogame form instead, and conveniently there’s a Steam sale (opens in new tab) running until April 3 with some decent discounts. You can get the classic Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition for 70% off (opens in new tab), or the more recent Solasta: Crown of the Magister for 65% off (opens in new tab) to have a modern 5E experience.
Here’s the link to Before the Storm (opens in new tab) again if it’s a free D&D game you’re after. Try not to drown if you end up in that barrel.